Across retail, the push to get more products to more consumers in less time is growing. Today, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of individual warehouse management systems (WMSs) available, but how do you reap the real-world features within this innovative type of supply chain management systems? How do you know utilizing a WMS in your company is really working to benefit your enterprise?
In addition, companies must manage warehouses, distribution centers and the store-as-a-distribution center and meet an ever-growing demand for seamless, omnichannel shopping experiences. Instead of trying to isolate every factor, follow these steps, reports DC Velocity, to help you get the most out of your investment in a Warehouse Management System.
Consider Supply Chain Complexity When Selecting a WMS
Supply chain complexity is still a forgotten factor when shopping for a WMS. As explained by Mary E. Shacklett of TechTarget, consider the size, set up and number of warehouses in your supply chain. In addition, create reasonable growth projections, and include peak requirements to meet sudden surges in demand. Understanding these factors and characteristics of your supply chain will help you identify the best WMS solution for your company.
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Draw on the Experience and Knowledge of Experts Utilizing a WMS
While you may want to select and deploy a Warehouse Management System immediately, it is important to not jump the proverbial gun. Take time when evaluating systems, and let the industry experts help you find a solution that suits your unique needs. However, avoid the temptation to procrastinate. In other words, get started looking for a system, and if you find one that does not meet your initial needs, ask questions. If it still is not up to par, move on to the next vendor or system.
Another way to take advantage of the experience and knowledge of experts in WMS is to hire one. Interview possible candidates to help manage the selection, upgrading and implementation process, and do not forget that some companies, like third-party integrators (3PIs), can help manage the entire application integration, testing and deployment process for you.
Review the Value Offered in Portfolio Systems, Not WMS Alone
Utilizing a WMS today is about more than just managing warehouse inventory. Modern technologies and systems can handle automated processes, including picking and shipping, which ensures right-time, right-place and right-cost delivery, explains Bridget McCrea of Supply Chain 24/7. Yet, as few as 65 percent of companies utilizing WMS do not take full advantage of its functions. Some functions rely on the use of “sister systems,” powered by like companies and designed to work as one warehouse management platform. This is an exceptional benefit to companies seeking greater use of waveless picking and order streaming or meeting the growing demands of e-commerce.
The Big Picture
Modern technologies and WMSs utilize the latest technologies to optimize your warehouse and improve your overall supply chain. As explained by Adam Robinson via Cerasis, one of the newest technologies reshaping traditional warehouse management is machine-to-machine (M2M) learning, including using the Internet of Things, in which systems consider data gathered by other systems to make changes automatically, recommend best practices and maintain profitability.
M2M learning technology lies at the heart of both robotics and voice-tasking technologies, so the options are limitless. However, you still need to use these primary steps to select the right WMS and reap a positive return.